WEST VIRGINIA—West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said Tuesday that marching bands will be allowed to perform at public school football games amid the Coronavirus pandemic, reversing the WVSSAC’s ruling from a day earlier.
Justice said the SSAC’s decision was ultimately made without getting his input on the situation first.
“As a coach and someone who is in our schools all the time, I appreciate how much our extracurricular activities, including our marching bands, mean to our students, parents, and communities,” Justice said in a statement.
He said he directed medical experts to work with the SSAC and the state Department of Education to “go back to the drawing board to find a safe way for our marching bands to do what they love to do: perform.”
Based on those discussions, the WVSSAC is recommending the following:
Middle and high school marching bands be allowed to attend and perform pre-game (National Anthem) and halftime shows at home football games with the following modifications:
Designation of separate seating area for band members (not in the bleachers).
Designation of separate seating area for band parents and families.
Requirement that band members maintain social distancing as per NFHS guidelines (6’ x 6’ and 9’ x 6’ for trombone players). A diamond formation is recommended.
Requirement that only the percussion section be permitted to play during the game.
Requirement that face coverings be worn by all band members when not performing.
Recommendation that face coverings be worn while performing when possible (as per NFHS guidelines).
Recommendation of use of instrument bell covers when possible (as per NFHS guidelines).
Recommendation that band members and families enter and exit the facility separately from athletes and their families when possible.
The same spectator guidelines used for football and cheer will be used for band.
“We fully support the participation of band at football games,” said WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan. “After further discussion, we believe this revised recommendation will allow participation while still maintaining safety protocols for everyone involved. We will monitor the situation closely knowing we may have to adjust again as we move forward.”